Bay Buzz

The staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Standing mail ballot requests plummet in Pinellas

25

January

Thanks to a change in state law, the number of Pinellas County voters with standing requests for mail ballots has fallen, Supervisor of Elections Deborah Clark says.

The change by lawmakers means mail ballot requests now only last one election cycle, which has become a factor recently as Tampa elections loom. But in Pinellas, where Clark has made mail ballots a mainstay instead of lots of early voting sites, the change has added meaning.

There were 250,000 mail ballots sent for the 2010 election. Clark says the county has 210,000 requests now.

During a nine-hour budget discussion Monday, Clark told other county officials that she stands by the mail ballot. But she also will send them out domestically 35 days before the March city elections, instead of 45 days, answering criticism that ballots went out too early. If it works okay, Clark said she'll do the same in the fall St. Petersburg elections.

And she dismissed the counties that use a lot of more costly early voting sites, despite criticism that the relative scarcity in Pinellas can limit access. Pinellas provides ballot drop-off sites and runs three early voting locations.

"I still don't understand why other counties continue to do it. It does not increase turnout here or anywhere else," Clark said.

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[Last modified: Tuesday, January 25, 2011 10:20am]

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